RGA Members Petition Athens Court After Greek Frustrations

Two members of the Remote Gambling Association trade body have petitioned the Athens Administrative Court of Appeals after being frustrated by attempts to enter the Greek online gambling market.

The unnamed members of the RGA applied to Greece’s Minister of Finance and the Hellenic Gambling Commission (HGC) for online gambling licenses in July 2013, but they are yet to receive a response – a contravention of Greek law, according to the trade body.

The RGA said last month that it was “regrettable” that the European Commission had failed to include Greece in a list of European Union member states that will face infringement proceedings for failing to comply with EU rules on the free movement of services.

The RGA has argued that such inaction by Greek authorities was “nothing to do with concerns about consumer protection” and was instead a strategic move to increase the value of state-run gambling monopoly OPAP. In August, the government’s 33% stake in OPAP was sold to Czech-led private equity consortium Emma Delta.

“The Greek government is taking a risk by not enabling reputable European companies to provide online gambling services to Greek customers under an established licensing regime,” RGA chief executive Clive Hawkswood said.

“By limiting the market without complying with the Treaty and Greek Constitution, the government may have to compensate European licensed companies for damages suffered by having to terminate their Greek operations due to failure of the Greek State to implement a proper licensing process and a lawful transitional regime.

“They may also have to refund investors in OPAP to the extent that they may have been led to believe that OPAP did have a monopoly.

“But most importantly the Greek government is denying itself tax income from established online operators that would bring in millions of euros in taxation if they could be licensed in Greece.

“In the absence of constructive progress to introduce an open, transparent and fair online gambling regime in Greece, our members have made it clear that the RGA will use all legal and legitimate efforts at its disposal including legal challenges to the EU and the Greek courts, in order to get to a legal, clear, workable and fair resolution.”

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